nytheatre.com review by Saviana Stanescu
November 12, 2009
The "Next Wave" festival at BAM has a strong tradition of bringing bold innovative (inter)national work to New York audiences. It's generally implied that we are talking about adult spectators. With the Swedish nouveau cirque company Cirkus Cirkor's Inside Out, that unwritten rule is broken as the show is mostly a surreal treat for children ages five and up. That doesn't mean that adults can't enjoy it; they can, as a piece of avant-garde performance that interweaves acrobatics, indie rock, dance, video installations, surreal atmosphere, goofy humor, street culture—all of the above tiptoeing on small narrative nuclei.
Inside Out has the usual stuff we can find in a circus: acrobats, jugglers, trapeze artists, clowns, slapstick comedy, etc. What makes it more special is the dramaturgy and the interdisciplinary approach. The show unfolds as the story of two regular people "picked" from the audience who, step by step, are initiated in the life and work of the circus performers. The everyday folks learn to fight their fears and take risks, both physical and emotional, and probably that's the general message intended to be catapulted towards us, the spectators: be brave, push your limits!
There are a few interesting images as the woman is literally carrying her (artisanal) heart around after it had been extracted out of her chest. Later it becomes a huge heart-installation from the top of which acrobats jump, somersaulting in the air.
Each circus moment has a little dramatic story as a springboard. The characters/performers have emotional relationships and even family connections: the two trapeze artists are mother and daughter, the jugglers and the acrobats are 'hood buddies, and even the drummer of Irya's Playground live band becomes a partner in a "conversation" with the starring juggler. The clown aka the old beard-woman aka Miss Pig is the comic yet tragic center of the whole narrative, as she's knitting in her little cage, providing dramatic transitions and inciting events for various scenes.
The aesthetic is not new but it is effective as this circus-within-a-circus show manages to surprise us constantly with visual imagery involving DNA spirals and close-ups of journeys inside veins and arteries, risky acrobatics, cool music, grotesque humor, or touching explorations of the girl-with-the-heart-in-her-hand-and-the-purse-on-her-shoulder's soul.
A beautiful and enjoyable performance for the child (and the silly avant-garde artist) in us. You won't be sorry if you see it, you won't be sorry if you miss it.